MWC College Football Previewby Charlie Parent August 8, 2021 0 comments
An often very overlooked conference in college football is the Mountain West Conference (MWC). This year more than ever, the conference brings serious excitement and tons of true talent, more than most group of five conferences can say. This is a conference that sees a lot of runs of dominance throughout it. Boise State has won the title game three times since its inception in 2013 and San Diego State and Fresno State have won it twice. With all these streaks, one was broken last year when San Jose State defeated Boise State in the championship game to secure assert themselves at the top. This year, we see an extremely top-heavy conference that will have tons of excitement at the front of each division.
Make sure to check out all of our other College Football Conference Previews.
Top Conference Players
The MWC is packed with players who have serious potential, as well as talent. Probably the biggest name we are looking at is Carson Strong, the quarterback from Nevada. Strong has drawn some serious looks like a first-round quarterback in next year’s NFL Draft and will have to show us a nice breakout to prove why he belongs.
Apart from Strong, we’ve still got a lot of great players. Boise State has a lethal quarterback-wide receiver linkup between Hank Bachmeier and Khalil Shakir. San Jose State quarterback Nick Starkel is back for what seems like his 20th year around the college football circle. Air Force running back Brad Roberts looks to embody the service academy running back role and absolutely wrack up the stats for the Falcons.
Coaches on the Hot Seat
There really aren’t many coaches in this conference that we could see heading out after this year. The only guys who are tenured longer than a season and a half are Wyoming’s Craig Bohl, who has built one of the best cultures in college football, Air Force’s Troy Calhoun who has been there forever, and finally San Jose State’s Brent Brennan who is coming off of a conference championship. We won’t be seeing a firing unless someone severely disappoints in their young careers.
Three Conference Games to Watch
Look, the Mountain West is not nearly as prestigious as the classic SEC or Big 10, but it does fancy some nice rivalries. Boise State and Nevada, while they haven’t played much lately because of divisions, is a classic one that used to be huge in the conference’s history. There are plenty more of these traditional games from the 70s that continue to today, but there’s also a ton of more exciting games that comply more with the stakes in each team’s division.
Wyoming vs Boise State
A huge Mountain Division affair with just three weeks left in the regular season that could decide who gets sent to Las Vegas for the championship game. Boise State has been the king of this division forever, while Wyoming, as mentioned earlier, has one of the best cultures in all of college football and is a huge up-and-comer.
We can expect a heavy dose of the run game from this experienced Wyoming squad, but it’s their passing game that will need to win them this game. We know they’ll run the ball and do it well but if they can’t get it done through the air they could get smoked. Boise State is bringing an electric offense to this one as well as talent all around the board on defense, so it will be tricky for the Cowboys to keep up. Overall, this should be a one Boise State wins at home, but it will come down to the very last play.
Nevada vs Boise State
We did mention in our intro to this section that this was a big rivalry back in the day, well now it gets renewed right here. The two top teams will square off in what could be a preview of the conference championship game. Boise State gets a little luck getting to host both Wyoming and Nevada, but that’s just how it goes and they still need to take care of business here. The first word that comes to mind for this game is shootout. These are two teams that averaged over 30 points per game in 2020 and will be primed to air it out and score as much as possible. Whoever can win this one edges themselves out as the clear favorite to win the conference, and makes a statement to the rest of the league.
San Jose State vs Nevada
Similar to the Boise State-Wyoming game, this one has huge implications in the division and is later in the season. Strong and Starkel is probably the marquee quarterback matchup in the conference here and whoever wins almost guarantees themselves a spot in the conference championship game. After last year’s run, San Jose State has lost a good amount of production, so naturally, they are the weaker team here. That doesn’t mean they still can’t compete and win this game. At the end of the day, this one is a coin flip. We should see a tight game through and through but don’t be surprised if the Spartans slip up just a week after playing a presumably tough game against Wyoming.
One Bold Prediction
Only the conference champion will find themselves ranked at the end of the year. For all the great teams that this conference has, it does look like only one could be ranked, mainly because of conference prestige. You see, all four of the top teams have to play at least two of the other four and that will basically lead them to all shooting themselves in the foot. Three to four-loss teams in the smaller conferences rarely ever get ranked by the end of the year, unless they are the conference champion. If these teams all take each other out, one will remain standing, and be the lone name to see themselves ranked.
Dark Horse Teams
The MWC is filled with teams that could launch some upset bids this year, and like last year, breakout and compete for the title. The first to mention is Air Force. They could have the worst record in the FBS and still be an upset threat every game. The reason for this is because service academies play differently than the rest. That triple option is so unique to handle for teams that go against air raids and multiple schemes each and every week. The Falcons will absolutely catch a couple of teams off guard with their attack, and win some huge upsets.
Another team to be on a huge lookout for is Fresno State. The Bulldog’s offense is simply thrilling. They ranked second in the conference in points scored last year, and lots of the key players are back for another year. Ronnie Rivers is one of the best group of five running backs we got, while the quarterback and tons of the receiving core return. All in all, this is not a team to mess around with, and will really push for a run in the West Division.
- Boise State
- Air Force
- Colorado State
- Utah State
- New Mexico
- Fresno State
- San Jose State
- San Diego State
These standings may be a little bit different than what you may have expected. Boise State not winning on its own is pretty bold, but that schedule is just brutal. They also start off with non-conference games against Oklahoma State and UCF, and two losses in three weeks could shoot morale. Colorado State continues to see some success in this division while Utah State and New Mexico still have a ways to go before competing.
In the West, the expected favorite should take it home here. Fresno State, however, is going to make a serious push at them. If Fresno can defeat them in their matchup, the Bulldogs could very well take this division. San Diego State is a bit of an underrated program as well that could make some moves. UNLV and Hawaii, on the other hand, are the true bottom-feeders of this entire conference.
Conference Championship Matchup
Like last year’s San Jose State team, Wyoming will be the surprise team entering this game. Nevada will come in as the favorite, and for good reason. Wyoming will play this game scrappy, but they will be severely undermanned talent-wise. It’s hard to say how the Cowboys can pull off this win, so all signs point to Nevada taking it and winning the conference overall.
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